Focusing on our health is always important, but it is especially vital as you heal after trauma. And with all the added layer of stress that the world is dealing with at this time (between politics and the current outbreak), I want to gently remind you to take time for self-care.
An overwhelmed body is a dysregulated body that is more likely to miss important cues about needing rest and unplug from the news and social media. Yes, we want to stay informed but we must also be mindful of the impact worried thinking can have on our feelings and create additional stress in the body.
Learning about self-care was part of my healing journey after trauma. I had learned a lot about trauma. I understood the impact but had been fortunate with a healthy body, so the long term impact had not shown up in my biology except for very painful migraine headaches and depression. The toxic level of stress I had lived with my whole life had not registered yet.
Back then, my self-care...
I struggled with self-care for a long time. It wasn’t an easy task for me. Back then, I was solely focused on numbing myself. I was in too much pain and too ashamed of what had happened to me. It hurt too much to think about it. In the process, I had completely disconnected from myself, my body, and my needs.
What helped was when I learned about the long-term impact of trauma, what the long term impact of toxic stress on my body. I could easily see how the abuse I suffered made me not want to talk about the past, feel my feelings, or want to take care of my body. But what was invisible to me was how the toxic stress from my childhood was still fueling the high level of cortisol in my body. The high levels of stress hormones in the body can create and contribute to long-term problems with our heart and our blood vessels. This information became a complete game changer for me.
I had to start to practice good self-care to help my body counter the years of living with...
The power of your breath is that it is always in the moment, it is always something you can return to.
Self-awareness is key to starting a successful trauma healing journey. It can feel a bit overwhelming in the beginning, as you are literally choosing to counter your biology in choosing discomfort, learning how to navigate stepping outside your comfort zone and taking a hard look at your toxic coping strategies.
I do a lot of trauma education with my clients. I know it provided me with the comfort to know that there was nothing wrong with me in how I had responded to and lived through my trauma. In fact, I was in many ways a textbook example of a child that grew up in a household with domestic violence and was being abused emotionally, physically, and sexually. The outcome was that I lived with toxic stress as a child and as an adult, that toxic stress was still living inside of me as if it was still happening and all my systems were on high alert, all the time!
As I started to...
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a quote on Facebook that really struck a chord with my followers. The image went on to be shared 102 times, with 12,825 people reached. The quote was, “She held herself until the sobs of the child inside subsided entirely. I love you, she told herself. It will all be okay.” (H. Raven Rose)
I believe that this quote resonated with so many people because the words finally put a scenario that they had dealt with so often into simple words. It’s a strange situation to explain but one that I guarantee most, if not all, people have experienced often. After a particularly hard day or after a triggering event, you might feel overwhelmed, upset, angry, and sad but confused because they don’t feel like your feelings. The feelings are in your body and something is pushing you to feel them but it doesn’t feel like it originated from you, or at least from your adult self. So where are these feelings coming from then?
They are coming...
Have you heard of the new show, Tidying Up? It features Marie Kondo, the bestselling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and how she brought her decluttering talents to the homes of people needing to organizing their lives.
I started to watch soon after it came out and immediately loved her simple steps for cleaning and decluttering a space.
My husband and I spent a week sorting through different rooms, closets, and cupboards and we got rid of a lot of stuff, things we had held on to for years for no reason! Once we got rid of the things we no longer needed, we were able to reorganize the things we decided to keep and now our apartment feels lighter, cleaner, and more put together.
I can now say, for the first time in my life, I have my socks and underwear folded in a container in an orderly fashion. Who could have guessed that it would feel so good to fold your socks??
Ever since, I have been recommending this show to my family, clients, and my groups. What I...
Self-awareness is an ongoing part of the trauma healing journey. It can feel a bit overwhelming in the beginning, as you are literally choosing to counter your biology in choosing discomfort, learning how to navigate stepping outside your comfort zone and taking a hard look at your helpful but toxic coping strategies. Are you aware of your coping strategies? We can also call them habits.
Part of what I do to support my clients is to provide a bit of trauma education. I know it provided me with comfort to know that there was nothing wrong with me in how I had responded to and lived through my trauma. In fact, I was in many ways a textbook example of a child that grew up in a household with domestic violence and was being abused emotionally, physically, and sexually. The outcome, like so many others, was my living with toxic stress (Learn more about ACE study here) as a child and growing into adulthood with the toxic stress keeping my systems on high alert, all the time.
As I began to...
Have you recovered from the holidays?
The holidays can be challenging for survivors, for many reasons. I used to feel exhausted after the holidays. Then I started to question why I was running around doing all the things I felt that I "should" be doing. Baking varieties of cookies, washing and ironing all the table cloths, scrubbing the floors, washing the windows, decorating every corner, planning every meal...the list goes on! Was it really something that I wanted or even enjoyed or was I doing it all because it was what my family did growing up or what my culture dictated was the "right" way to prepare/celebrate the holidays? Either way, it was exhausting!
I know I had good intentions and wanted to create good memories for my family but looking back, I can see I used to be so controlling and rigid with how things should be. Looking back, it makes me cringe and I feel bad for my kids. Yes, they do have fond memories but I know that some of my controlling ways would take all the...
My heart sings with happiness every day. Why? Because I focus on the things that make me happy and give me joy. I do this on purpose. It’s an intentional action. Not something that just happens.
To be honest, feeling joyful isn’t easy for me. I’m not one of those naturally happy people, who leaps out of bed every morning with a smile on her face. For too many years, I was bound by shame and couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be happy or joyful. I didn’t feel worthy of happiness.
Back then, I wanted everyone else to make me happy. However, that’s not how happiness works, so I was always disappointed. I expected things to go wrong, to be betrayed, abandoned, and ignored. It took a long time to get to the happy, joyous place I’m at right now.
How did I do it? Through the simple practice of self-care and self-love.
The secret to happiness is to do at least one simple thing every day that makes you happy and gives you joy. It can be...
Every time you make a decision to change a toxic behavior pattern, your wounded inner child will appear. It’s what makes healthy change hard for us.
And that’s why inner child work is so important. You can’t recover from child abuse and trauma without doing this deep, messy work.
Your wounded inner child is that very young part of yourself, who was hurt by the abuse and is still in pain. In my case, it was my 6-year old self. She was angry for never being seen, heard, or valued. She believed the only way she could ever be worthy was by overachieving and taking care of everyone else’s needs, while ignoring hers.
Because I could feel her anger, resentment, and pain, I was terrified of her. So I rejected her for decades. Of course, that just added to her painful burden.
Inner child work is the practice of building a loving relationship with your abused inner child and becoming the loving parent that child never had. Easier said than done, right? I mean, how do...